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First Five Majors illustrate Creative Process

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 04 Feb 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Webfoot  04 Feb 2003 
Tarot as Creative Process

This is an idea I’ve been playing with for using Tarot as a kind of supportive framework for creative process. I would appreciate your thoughts.

1. Fool—The germ or spark of an idea. Something that excites your interest, sounds like it might be fun. (i.e., “That mandala is cool. I’d like to do something like that.” or “How about writing a haiku for every major?”) Jot it down. The idea. (If you don’t it will flit away like the Fool.)

2. Magician—Discussion time. Me: “ Mandalas are cool.” Magician: “Well, I like them too, but what did you have in mind exactly?” In other words is this doable? Do you want to put energy into this right now?

3. High Priestess—It’s important to consciously plop the idea into the pool of the unconscious for incubation and growth. Sort of a prayer to the muse.

4. Empress—This step gives the spark a bit of actual form. Lets it know you care. Nothing fancy, the roughest sketch, a few notes.

5. Emperor—Organization and structure time, or how to proceed. This would not be a huge thing. Just giving the idea a place to go, a nuts and bolts sort of home where it can grow. Will you use a computer, a notebook, pencil or crayon or collage? How will you organize those first sketches, notes, paragraphs?

I see these five cards symbolizing the core of a creative process and the World card as the end product. They mirror each other. The Fool in the center like the World’s dancer, with the four corners marked by the Magician (fire), High Priestess (water), Empress (earth), and Emperor (air).

And all the cards in between can be read as helps and/or hindrances to the process. For instance, Hierophant could be the need to take a class, learn a skill. It could also mean it’s time to leave the teacher behind, or time to stop worrying about what “they” say. The minors could be seen as aiding/illuminating the four “corners” of the process—Wands for the Magician, Cups for the High Priestess, Pentacles for the Empress, and Swords for the Emperor. (I’ve used the RWS here, by the way, and have not tried this with any other decks.)

Also tried a 5-card spread with positions being the Fool, Magician, HP, Empress, and Emperor and using the position meanings given above which worked rather well. Course I’ve only used it once, so far.

Does any of this resonate with anybody? I have not bounced this off anyone yet and would be interested in how people—there are so many creative people on this site—might see this approach as helpful, or no. 

MeeWah  06 Feb 2003 
Webfoot: I like the concept! If I understand correctly, then one would use the associative suits for each Major category for advice or guidance? 

Webfoot  06 Feb 2003 

Thank you very much for your kind response.

Let’s say I draw three cards for advice. (A moment please, while I shuffle.) The Wheel, the 8 of Pentacles, and the 6 of Cups. The Wheel might remind me that creativity comes in cycles, sometimes full of energy and ideas, sometimes not. Might also stand for “life intervenes:” the kid is sick, you have to work overtime, the car dies. Or you need a change of perspective, a look at the big picture. The Wheel can be a help and/or a hindrance.

The 8 of Pentacles would point back to the Empress the one in charge so to speak of actually getting something down on paper or canvas or whatever. The 8 emphasizes the importance of keeping the creative work going regularly. (A reversed 8 might be telling you to take a break.) The 6 of Cups would point back to the High Priestess, the emotional, imaginative part of the process. Smelling the roses, working in the garden, taking the kids to the park, what ever connects you to nature and/or to the child.

Perhaps I need to reframe this post somehow asking people how they use the cards in furthering their creative work? 

MeeWah  06 Feb 2003 
Webfoot: I do not know that your query needs to be re-worded, but I need to re-think my understanding of it :)

I latched onto "using Tarot as a...supportive framework for [the] creative process". I noted only Majors listed & took them to act as the descriptions or positions of a spread pattern (rather than as the cards of a spread). This was also based on your references to "the five cards symbolizing the core of a creative process" but now I think I understand what ye meant, at least in terms of initiating or inspiring a dialogue with one's cards. I also thought only Minor arcana would be drawn & "matched" to those same respective Majors & interpreted in relation to them.

Apologies for being way out there, & thanks for taking the time to clarify your idea. 

Webfoot  07 Feb 2003 
Not way out there. I'm obviously not communicating too clearly. Well, I said I hadn’t bounced this off anyone. That makes you the lucky bouncee!

I’ve used the Tarot before for creative questions, but was never able to get very clear answers unless it was a yes or no type question. This is my attempt to use the cards first to mirror the process and then to answer questions about that process. I was using the first 5 cards as a way to nail down any creative idea and give it some beginning structure. Then I was trying to relate the rest of the cards to that structure and then use those relationships in spreads.

Thanks again for helping me with this. 

Cerulean  07 Feb 2003 
Pope where the spiritual part of the creator meshes into the creative mix and this actually starts integrating with the inventor/creator...

Lovers where the creative heart is not only engaged, but integrates the yin and yang of it---the positive and negative ideas, a first possibility that takes fire and the creator is filled with the spirit of romantic possibility

Chariot, where this becomes an activity that actually goes forth...first success...kind of a victory to see a physical manifestation...

Of course the mirroring part from the last arcana, stepping backwards from the World, may not mesh with this...I'd have to figure this out...

For some reason I'm thinking that I enjoy all the steps that you outlined in the first five, but I'd want to also see the creative integration of the person who is doing this experiment and a first step outward. If I find it, I think I've seen something about steps in the creative process or scientific methods---so this wonderful list that was started does sound quite right so far.

I only posted some suggested additions, because I remember Nina Lee Braden's Self-Discovery and the Tarot said that in order to make the insights come to life or make a great idea into something real, there has to be a few additional steps. The person has to make an active vow to make a concrete step and follow through. Your list is fine and good as it is---I'd just add the other three steps for me.

Thanks for the ideas. 

Webfoot  08 Feb 2003 
Mari Hoshizaki--

Yes, I like this. I had looked at building more of the majors onto the originial 5-card pattern, but it got too complicated. I was looking at arrangements under the original pattern as leading to the World card. Had not thought of building onto the 5-card. If you place the Pope/Hierophant by the Magician, the Lovers with the High Priestess, and the Chariot by the Empress your ideas build on and add to it very nicely. Which would put Strength or Justice next to the Emperor. Hmmm. If you place the rest of the cards so you’d end up with an interesting variation on the spiral pattern, clockwise 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc., with a square in the middle symbolizing manifestation.


Can you say more about the “creative integration of the person who is doing this experiment and a first step outward.”

And thank you for sharing your ideas! 

Cerulean  08 Feb 2003 
Your diagram was stunning. Does some puzzle or designing or pattern-making experience come into play? Once in awhile some odd reference to the Visconti mention chess and tarot might have something to do with one another...

I like the idea of pairing the Emporer with Justice or Strength...most often a historical Emporer paired dictates with Strength, not Justice, it seems...

I'll write more later...there are sites that list stages to the creative process.

(I'm amused at your designs and really like them...I"m figuring out a Pairs exercise at the moment and want to write it up---using the odd Minchiate that has astrological symbols beginning with Libra but no chronological order. I'm pretending that the Minchiate was started around 1530 while some rebellist artistic craftsmen were poking secret fun at the Medicis and Popes and even the Holy Roman Emporer. By 1530 more than one or two Popes had offspring and the short-lived republic of Florence starved for almost two years before accepting Papal dictates to return to the Medici rule... 

Webfoot  11 Feb 2003 
Thank you for pointing me to the Minchiate. I was not familiar with this deck (another one for my lengthening list) and wish you well in your work with it. The Medicis and their world, it seems, continue to inspire. 

The First Five Majors illustrate Creative Process thread was originally posted on 04 Feb 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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